The American Rescue Plan Act: A Financial Lifeline for After-school Programs

By Alyssa Thornley | May 10, 2021 6:50:52 AM

Welcome relief in the form of a federal funding boost of $39 billion is now helping after-school and summer programs to reopen and stay open.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, passed in early March, provides a total of $123 billion to support families, K-12 schools, and the childcare sector. 

What does ARP mean for summer and after-school programs?

The financial lifeline is specifically for "evidence-based activities" to address learning loss. These activities can be summer learning programs, extended day, or after-school programs.

This financial package is welcome news to the childcare industry that suffered through the pandemic. Skyrocketing costs and declining enrollment put many programs and childcare centers at risk of closing. Many switched to a virtual program delivery, a novel concept in many cases. The result was many failed to attract the same number of participants as the in-person program.

As parents head back to work, after-school programs are now ramping up again and returning to full capacity.

Now that financial relief is on its way, the challenge is to find the best way to use these funds and track where they eventually go. Better data collection will enable programs to spend on services that offer the most value.

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GPRA Reporting Changes Will Challenge After-School Programs This Summer

By Phillip Smith | Mar 31, 2021 10:45:00 AM

After-school and out-of-school-time (OST) program directors will face a considerable challenge with changes to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) starting in July. GPRA requires that 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) grant-funded programs update their regular reporting to provide more precise and diverse performance measurements and reporting intended to capture a clearer picture of how well they serve students. The GPRA currently requires grantees to evaluate their program’s effectiveness and submit progress reports annually. Performance data is shared with Congress, federal managers, and the public.

This blog summarizes the high-level timelines and requirements for responding to GPRA, as well as actionable next steps for after-school programs.

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Funding Can Help Schools Transition with New Technology During the Pandemic

By Paige Kummer | Mar 11, 2021 7:15:00 AM

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act are pandemic relief funding packages that include funding for K-12 education. The CARES Act provided over $13 billion in Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER I) funding, The CRRSA Act provided over $54 billion in ESSER II funding, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act includes over $122 billion in ESSER III funding. The total amount of ESSER funding provided in these three funding packages is approximately $190 billion. This is a staggering amount of non-recurring (one-time) funding.

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AfterSchool21 Partners with GG4L to Support Additional Integrations for OST Programs

By Paige Kummer | Mar 8, 2021 11:14:42 AM

AfterSchool21 (AS21) is used by more 21CCLC programs than any other after-school program data management software. AS21 supports in-person, hybrid, and virtual programs by streamlining attendance, tracking outcomes, collecting evidence of participation, and simplifying reporting for the 21APR (now with customizable dashboards). Our software is used by fee-based programs to track attendance and manage fees. Programs can track both fee-based and grant-funded programs in a single system with AfterSchool21. All licenses come with training, product updates, and free, live US-based customer service.

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Using 21CCLC Data Management Tools To Impact Student Success

By Paige Kummer | Mar 3, 2021 10:15:00 AM

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) program awards grants to programs to fund after-school enrichment. Research overwhelmingly shows that after-school support, particularly for underprivileged kids and those who would otherwise be alone at home, offers numerous benefits. These programs provide more equitable access to educational resources, support learners who may be struggling, improve engagement with the day school, and may reduce problem behaviors. For some children, after-school programs are a primary or even sole source of support outside of school.

Administrators of OST (out of school time) programs that receive 21CCLC funding must submit data to the federal 21APR to be eligible to reapply for funding at the end of the term. While 21CCLC data provides critical information about program performance, the process of compiling, submitting, and tracking data taxes administrative resources and may take staff away from core duties. The right 21CCLC data management tools can improve outcomes, support student success, and provide resource flexibility.

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The App-Garden Partners with TransACT Communications to Offer K12 Better Options for Modern Transportation, Operations and HR Challenges

By Alyssa Thornley | Feb 16, 2021 11:50:00 AM

TransACT Communications ( has acquired App-Garden (, a leader in K-12 transportation and operations administrative software. The App-Garden team has over 27 years of experience in developing easy-to-use administrative software to support school bus routing, field trip management, event scheduling and facilities management, volunteer operations, virtual substitute teacher training, and more. Working together, TransACT and The App-Garden are proud to offer K12 administrators cost effective software and outstanding customer service to help improve operations and service delivery in school district operations.

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How to Upgrade Your 21APR Reporting for Ease and Efficiency

By Paige Kummer | Feb 10, 2021 10:15:00 AM

After-school and out-of-school-time (OST) programs offer more than just childcare. Research consistently finds that they promote social skills, bolster students’ connection to school, increase school attendance, improve grades and academic achievement, and reduce problem behaviors. Better data enables these programs to improve student outcomes by focusing on services that offer the most value to participants. Many after-school programs rely on the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) program to fund their services. The grants this program funds require annual reporting that includes data on attendance, outcomes, academic achievement, participant demographics, and more. Use the easiest to use and most cost effective 21APR reporting software to meet federal grant requirements.

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Free COVID-19 Letter Template for OST Programs and School Districts

By Dr. David Holbrook | Jan 7, 2021 11:00:00 AM

TransACT and Cayen Systems published a free resource to support out-of-school-time programs in keeping our communities informed, healthy, and safe on September 1st, 2020. As the holiday season often includes travel, we want to highlight the complimentary COVID-19 letter template for out-of-school-time programs, state and local education agencies, and schools.

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4 Steps for Securing the Right After-School Program Grants

By Paige Kummer | Nov 27, 2020 10:15:00 AM

Grants are essential for after-school and out-of-school-time program sustainability. In order to keep the lights on long term, after-school program directors must secure a variety of funding sources to support their initiatives. The most successful after-school programs have no more than 30 percent of funding coming from a single source after their first year. By diversifying funding sources and securing the right grants, after-school programs can create a path to sustainability to help make sure they can serve their communities for many years to come. The process of securing after-school program grants involves four steps. 

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Using After-School Program Grants to Upgrade Technology

By Paige Kummer | Nov 6, 2020 10:15:00 AM

After-school program directors use grants to fund many aspects of after-school and out-of-school-time programs (OST), from paying staff to planning recreational activities for students. Some directors also use grants to realize operational efficiencies and identify opportunities for improvement by investing in technology upgrades.

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